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John McCain remembered as a fighter for American ideals

Friends and family, ordinary citizens and VIPs alike gathered Thursday in Phoenix to honor the life and legacy of Arizona Sen. John McCain, who died last Saturday at the age of 81. Judy Woodruff reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The people of Arizona have said their final farewells to John McCain.

    A memorial service today celebrated the state's senior senator, who died last Saturday at the age of 81.

    "Amazing Grace" flowed from the North Baptist Church in Phoenix this morning, as friends, family, ordinary citizens and VIPs honored the life and legacy of Senator John McCain.

  • Grant Woods:

    It was at the same time just really a lot of fun and also quite terrifying, because of his ridiculously bad driving.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    McCain's former chief of staff Grant Woods began with memories of his longtime friend and a defense of his ideals.

  • Grant Woods:

    John McCain believed in our Constitution, and he stood up for it. He fought for it every step of the way. So he wouldn't stand by as people try to trample the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Longtime friend Tommy Espinoza, a Democrat and Mexican American activist, remembered McCain's commitment to Americans of all ethnic backgrounds.

  • Tommy Espinoza:

    We all make America great. So I hope that, in his legacy, the senators, governors, mayors, city council members, elected officials embrace the thought of love, because John reflected love and love of a strong man. And that is nowadays hard to come by.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Two of McCain's seven children, Andrew and Bridget, honored their father's service to the nation, along with an unlikely friend of McCain's, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald — 24 sitting U.S. senators were among the more than 3,500 attendees.

    The main speaker, former Vice President Joe Biden, was a longtime colleague of McCain's in the Senate.

  • Former Vice President Joseph Biden:

    I always thought of John as a brother. We had a hell of a lot of family fights.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Perhaps the toughest of those fights was the 2008 presidential campaign, when McCain loss to Barack Obama and Biden, his running mate.

    But Biden remembered McCain's bipartisanship and his courage in fighting the same cancer that took the life of Biden's son Beau three years ago.

  • Former Vice President Joseph Biden:

    The world now shares with you the ache of John's death.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    McCain had feuded with President Trump over his policies and conduct. Today, Biden defended his close friend without mentioning the president directly.

  • Former Vice President Joseph Biden:

    And he could not stand the abuse of power wherever he saw it, in whatever form, in whatever country. He was always about basic values, John, fairness, honesty, dignity, respect, giving hate no safe harbor, leaving no one behind, and understanding that, as Americans, we're part of something much bigger than ourselves.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Trump is not invited to Saturday's memorial service in Washington. Instead, former President Obama and George W. Bush will deliver eulogies.

    And at the end of today's service, to the sounds of Frank Sinatra, McCain's family left Phoenix to fly with the casket to Washington. He will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol tomorrow.

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